TIMOR-LESTE 2012

Victor Valley College Tropical Research Initiative
Herpetofauna of Timor-Leste
Phase VI

Beloi creeks, Ataúro Island, Dili District

Several dry creeks are accessible south of Beloi.

Map of creeks and swamps south of Beloi
Mouse-over map for sat map and click for larger version of topo map

 

Scott, Sven, Zito and Justin explored an small unnamed creek bed, finding Common house geckos (Hemidactylus frenatus) under fallen palm fronds and an unusual red-headed scolopendrid scorpion, guarding a clutch of eggs, under a large rock.

Scolopendrid centipede, female who was guarding eggs (not shown)

A few days later the entire team set out to explore the Akarana River bed, another creek running inland from the coast, south of Beloi.

The dry creek bed of the Akarana River

We parked at the bridge over the dry bed of the river and started to walk inland towards the foothills and the rainforest, searching for herps enroute. We covered a considerable distance and began to find night skinks (Eremiascincus sp.) under rocks on the banks of the dry creek, and we also captured a large Sun skink (Eutropis multifasciata) and another Island wolfsnake (Lycodon capucinus).

Night skink
Eremiascincus sp.
Sun skink
Eutropis multifasciata

 

Scott and I were also on the prowl for interesting invertebrates and we found a camouflagued praying mantis and a female Bark scorpion (Lychas mucronatus) with her babies on her back. Some of the less popular and more dangerous species make excellent mothers - crocodiles, centipedes and scorpions. This particular scorpion species has already stung three members of the team: Hinrich, Laca and myself, so we always take extra care with it as the experience is painful for a couple of days.

Praying mantis (Liturgusidae)
Humbertiella sp.
Bark scorpion (Buthidae)
Lychas mucronatus
with her offspring on her back

 

It was while we were photographing the mantid that the rain started. It started and continued with a vengeance, forcing the entire team to retreat back down the river valley (we had come a surprisingly long way, it turned out) to the Troopies on the bridge. Our retreat probably took 20 minutes and during that time the rain got heavier and heavier and heavier and we all got wetter and wetter and wetter until we could have got no wetter if we had jumped into a swimming pool fully clothed. This was the worst rain this band of drowned rats had experienced in Timor-Leste.

The Night skinks (Eremiascincus sp.) were the main reason Sven had joined the team for Phase VI, and we needed to find more specimens but since we had already been caught out by the heavy rain on one creek we decided to choose another with better road access for the vehicles in case we had to retreat again. We chose the next creek north, the Atipasa River. To get a good range of scale count data we needed to find at least four adult specimens and this we managed to accomplish searching under the rocks on the banks of the dry creek bed. We also found more Bark scorpions (Lychas mucronatus) and some large scolopendrid centipedes, so care needed to be taken where hands were being placed.

As expected the rain returned and although it was not as heavy as the previous day it was useful to know we did not have a 20 minute swim back to the Troopies this time.

Rocks along the creek bank Troopies within easy reach
The team chasing night skinks Back-breaking rock-lifting is the way to find them
Caitlin and Aaren searching under rocks David, Hinrich and Laca pursue a skink

Mission accomplished we returned to Barry's Place.